White Collar Crime
Defending Against Charges of White Collar Crime – Illinois Criminal Defense Attorneys
White collar crimes are a grouping of offenses that encompass nonviolent crimes, often involving financial transactions, frequently committed by people in a position of trust or with a fiduciary responsibility to the victim. The white collar designation evolved from the fact that perpetrators usually wore shirts with white collars. These offenses are pursued aggressively by both state and federal prosecutors and many white collar crimes are charged as felonies with lengthy prison sentences attached. If you have been arrested and charged with a white collar crime, or if you have learned that you are being investigated for such an offense, retaining an experienced criminal defense attorney is imperative. White collar crimes often are committed by individuals who have had no experience being on the wrong side of the criminal justice system, which may impact the speed with which they seek experienced help. Being convicted of a white collar crime will have long-term effects on an offender’s life, so obtaining the services of a Chicago Trial Lawyer is critical. John Joyce can help you win your case.
Defending Against White Collar Crime Charges Aggressively
White collar crimes require very specialized defense strategies due to the reams of paper that typically take front and center stage during a trial. You will need qualified experts in forensic accounting and investigation in order to evaluate and analyze all of the available information to formulate an effective defense strategy. In defending a white collar crime case, the process by which the alleged wrongful activities were investigated and evidence was collected is critical. In addition, the outside forces and personalities influencing the person being charged will play a prominent role in the defense. Quite often the victim of a white collar crime has a personal stake in the outcome of the case and pushes the State’s Attorneys office for the maximum penalty allowed under Illinois law.
White Collar Crimes under Illinois Law
White collar crime investigations are long, complex, and far-reaching. Frequently, an investigation will commence with one person as the target and the fact-gathering will change the focus in another direction entirely. There usually are grand jury inquiries and it is important not to participate in any interview or provide any testimony without consulting an attorney to ensure that a person does not transform from witness to defendant.
The Illinois State Statute for White Collar Crime (720 ILCS 5/33 et seq.) sets forth the crimes that are included as white collar crimes as well as the elements of the offenses. White collar crimes are those where deceit or concealment is used to obtain money, property, services, or some other benefit or advantage. The offenses that are usually treated as white collar crimes are very expansive, including the following:
- ATM Fraud;
- Bank Fraud;
- Check Fraud
- Computer Fraud;
- Consumer Fraud;
- Credit Card Fraud or Identification Theft;
- Environmental Crimes;
- Fraud or Theft, generally;
- Healthcare Fraud;
- Insurance Fraud;
- Mail or Wire Fraud;
- Money Laundering;
- Mortgage Fraud;
- Public Corruption;
- RICO Violations;
- Stock Fraud; and
- Tax Fraud.
Oftentimes, those white collar crimes involving allegations of fraud involve breaches of fiduciary duty and insider trading. Federal prosecutors handle many white collar fraud cases; therefore, a defense attorney must be knowledgeable about the nuances of both the State and federal court system and recognize the focus and resources that will be brought to bear against the defendant.
Penalties for White Collar Crime
The types of crimes that may be called white collar vary widely, so the penalties vary widely as well. Possible punitive outcomes for white collar crime convictions include:
- Community Service;
- Property Forfeiture; and
As the prosecution of these crimes becomes more common, the length of sentences imposed and fines assessed become greater. Fines, not including seizure of the fruits of the crime or restitution, may be in the tens and hundreds of thousands of dollars. Contrary to folklore, the sentences of multiple decades are not served in comfortable country club style prisons. The average sentence for a person convicted of a white collar crime is around four years. Certain charges have mandatory sentences and probation is not a possibility, such as fraud involving a school or church.
White collar crimes are zealously pursued by prosecutors with the resources to spend years gathering evidence and crafting a case. The high-profile nature of these offenses draws those individuals interested in advancing careers and making names for themselves. The tools available to these prosecutors include the grand jury and the command of many investigators. An experienced Chicago white collar crime lawyer can help his client navigate this complex procedural maze. Even in a grand jury scenario, while you cannot have an attorney present during the actual testimony, having the information that defense counsel provides can make the difference between being a witness and being a defendant. Defendants who are convicted of a white collar crime can have property and assets that may have been tainted by the criminal proceeds seized. This means that in addition to the loss of freedom, the offender’s family could lose their home, college funds could be confiscated, and other necessary items stripped from loved ones who are also dealing with the consequences of the sentencing.
White collar crimes carry with them a significant stigma. Conviction of this type of crime will be used by potential employers to deny employment. There is particular prejudice in social circles resulting from being accused and sentenced in a crime involving dishonesty and concealment. Taking an aggressive stance in defending against these charges is crucial for the accused’s future.
Defending a White Collar Crime
White collar crime investigations are multi-tiered endeavors involving different investigatory agencies, both state and federal, rooms full of document boxes of data, witnesses who are aiding in the prosecution rather than facing charges themselves, and situations that were created in order to obtain evidence against the defendant. In other words, there are numerous avenues of attack for an experienced defense attorney. In preparing a defense, it is necessary to look at why the offender committed the acts in question. Was there an element of coercion? Often, a person in power, including professional superiors and government representatives, will force the individual to carry out illegal activities that he or she would never have done otherwise. Did the accused have the capacity to put a halt to the illicit behavior? Frequently, someone is carried along by the totality of the circumstances. Was there an element of entrapment? Law enforcement personnel and other state and federal agents face enormous pressure to make high-profile arrests and pursue successful prosecutions. This means that there are many times where an offender is led into the trap of committing the inappropriate actions by overzealous investigators. In addition to the many defense strategies, a good white collar crime attorney serving Chicago will look at the intent of the accused perpetrator. Although intent may not be enough to get the charges dismissed, if the offender did not have the requisite intent to commit the bad acts then this may mitigate against large fines and a long sentence.
If Charged with a Crime, You Need a Trial Lawyer
John Joyce is an agressive trial lawyer with the training and experience you need to win your case. Call us now at 773-789-7899 to receive a free consultation.